Are horse brasses worth anything?

Maybe you’ve noticed small, flat, but round brass objects in antique stores and wondered what they’re used for? Many have a horse head and a ring for hanging. Or you may have seen these brass plaques in souvenir shops that sell many souvenirs, especially near airports flying into the UK. Old or new, these are called horse brass and are usually about 3″ x 3.5″, depending on the shape.


The purpose of using horse brass

They are decorative attachments for reins and other harnesses used to dress up horses for parades and other displays. Horse brass has proliferated since World War I and is collected by people who rarely see horses. But brass plates are highly valued by British residents and foreign tourists alike as a souvenir of a place or place.

Brass can be hung on collars, martingales, saddles or stirrups, or even on the buttocks near blinders or ponytails. Brass is not only shaped into commemorative plaques, but also into holders for feathers and streamers or real bells. While some horse brass originally honored awards or identification plaques, they are now made specifically to satisfy the whims of collectors everywhere.

Origin and provenance

Although the decoration of special horses may have appeared as amulets in ancient times, the modern phenomenon originated in England in the mid-19th century. Until then, casting small brass items was cheap and common. The earliest horse brass in the 18th century may have been a form of property identification, but the practice of decorating horses with various types of small brass quickly became common in England, Ireland and Scotland (but not elsewhere). Around the turn of the 20th century, local clubs, officials, corporations and event organizers regularly released horse brass bands to commemorate every conceivable event.

The popularity of brass comes from the convenience of stamping rolled brass compared to previous casting processes. Castings tend to be heavy and thick, and are sometimes done by hand. The mass production process after about 1900 meant that cheap brass was available to all major players. These papers are thinner, perforated and printed with pictures and text. Many of the early ones are very detailed. Replicas and variants quickly flooded stores, making them easy to buy, to the delight of tourists (and the bane of serious collectors).

If you travel around the UK today, you will see horse brass for sale in hundreds of designs. Old and rare are used by collectors as bar decorations or looting. The National Horse Brass Society is working to bring some order to this collection area. NHBS publications and conferences allow members to verify the history of specific brass instruments, examine new developments following historical discoveries, and discuss methods of identification. As horse brass collecting has become so common among non-professional memorabilia collectors, identifying counterfeit brass has become an important feature of the NHBS, thereby preserving the value of the genuine item.

Both expert and novice collectors tend to focus their attention on one theme or subject. A person may be looking to represent a specific occupation (railway, racing), a limited time or era (before World War I or World War II), a type of building (church, castle), or a design (arrow, bell, wagon). Represents a wheel, a horseshoe ). While displays can come in a variety of ways, sometimes covering nearly every inch of bar wall space, many homeowners use leather or replica martingales to hang multiple sheets of brass vertically. Such decorative displays almost always pique the interest of visitors.

People also ask

Are horse brasses collectible?


Horse brasses are still used today, and have also become popular as decorative items. Apart from the exceptionally rare brasses, fine examples can be still bought relatively cheaply and the diverse nature make them an ideal collectible.

How can you tell how old a horse brasses are?

One of the easiest ways of recognising a handmade brass is by the hammer marks on the back. They are, however, very rare and prized by collectors. The evidence for attributing the origins of horse brasses to the Romanies is the use of Romany motifs in all the early brasses — ie. hearts, moons, stars, sun-flashes, etc.

What are horse medallions for?

Dear M.F.: Horse medallions used to decorate various parts of equestrian harness are a popular decorative category of collecting. They have been produced in America, England, Europe and China for centuries. The high quality early pieces can sell for hundreds to thousands of dollars.

What do different horse brasses mean?

Horse brasses were fastened to various parts of the horse’s harness, and a horse could wear up to three hundred at a time. This brass is in the form of a crescent symbol of the Moon Goddess, which was believed to be the most powerful protection against the evil eye and against witches.

What can you do with horse brasses?


Along with being formed as commemorative plaques, brasses have morphed into holders for plumes and floating ribbons or actual bells. While some horse brasses were originally recognition awards or identification plaques, now they are especially manufactured to feed the whims of collectors everywhere.

How are horse brasses used?


A horse brass is a brass plaque used for the decoration of horse harness gear, especially for shire and parade horses. They became especially popular in England from the mid-19th century until their general decline alongside the use of the draft horse, and remain collectors items today.

How do you clean horse brasses?

Mix together 1/2 cup of vinegar, a teaspoon of salt, and a sprinkling of flour until it forms a paste. Spread the mixture on the brass and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Rinse with cool water and dry. (This method also works on corroded brass.)

How can you tell if horse brass is cast?

How do you restore an old leather horse harness?

Rub a lanolin-based leather conditioner into the harness with a dry rag while the leather is still slightly damp. Rub a little extra conditioner on cracked areas to help them regain suppleness. Continue adding conditioner and rubbing it into the harness leather with a circular motion until the leather begins to shine.

What are horse decorations called?


A caparison is a cloth covering laid over a horse or other animal for protection and decoration. In modern times, they are used mainly in parades and for historical reenactments. A similar term is horse-trapper.

How do you display horse brass?

Does copper and zinc make brass?


brass, alloy of copper and zinc, of historical and enduring importance because of its hardness and workability.

What are brass horse medallions?


Horse brass medallions were believed to protect the horses. Vital for work, transportation and war, horses were possessions of value. Early motifs were inspired by ancient beliefs and superstitions that would ensure the health and safety of the equine asset.

What is the hardness of brass?

The hardness of brass has traditionally been discussed in terms relative to its maximum hardness. Publication No. 36 by the Copper Development Association (CDA) in the 1960’s show that for cartridge brass full hard is typically 175-185HV and fully annealed cartridge brass is typically 65HV.

Can I clean brass with Coke?

Let’s begin with a cleaning tip: If you have some tarnished or corroded brass that you want to clean, an old brass candlestick for example, you can use Coca-Cola, or any other cola soft drink, and that brass will come clean.

Does vinegar harm brass?

In many cases, simple household products such as vinegar and salt can clean brass. They’re a safe and inexpensive alternative to commercial cleaners.

How do you clean badly tarnished copper?

Mix 1/2-cup distilled white vinegar (or lemon juice, which is more acidic) with 1 Tbsp. salt and enough flour to form a thin paste. Apply the paste to the copper surface and scrub away the tarnish with a cloth or scrubbing sponge. Rinse under running water and buff with a dry cloth to polish.

How do you soften a new leather harness?

How do you clean a dirty leather harness?

Make up a solution of 3 parts lukewarm water to 1 part baking soda or Mr. Clean. Wipe down all the harness and buckles using a damp sponge. Dirt under the buckles acts like sandpaper, so be thorough.

How do I clean a harness?

It is best to begin with the harness on a flat surface, leaving it open for visible inspection. Using a moist sponge, wipe down the harness to remove excess dirt and dust. Mix a cleaning solution using laundry detergent or dish soap. DO NOT use any cleansers that contain chlorine, bleach, or abrasive chemicals.

What is a horse trapper?

Trapper or Caparison is medieval horse blanket (also called shabraque), which is a saddlecloth used by medieval knights taking part in medieval hose tournaments.

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